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Sad Nights

Michael Wood

26 May 1994
The Conquest of Mexico 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 832 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 671 70518 0
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The Conquest of Mexico 
by Serge Gruzinski, translated by Eileen Corrigan.
Polity, 336 pp., £45, July 1993, 0 7456 0873 6
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... Bartolomé de las Casas, the defender of the American Indians, said in the 16th century that he didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the procedure, and two Colombian Indians are reported by HughThomas as saying, in 1515, that the Pope must have been drunk when he divided between the Spanish and the Portuguese so much land which wasn’t his to give. The procedure was not simply absurd ...

Looking back

Hugh Thomas

7 July 1983
The Spanish Civil War 
by David Mitchell.
Granada, 208 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 246 11916 0
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... his own attitude once or twice as when he says that the Left’s revolution in Asturias was ‘a courageous failure’. It was surely an outrageous breakdown in democracy, which, as Madariaga (and Hugh Dalton) pointed out long ago, deprived the Left of a strong moral case when the Right took the same action (against a Left-Centre government) two years later ...

Red Spain

Hugh Thomas

9 April 1992
The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counter-Revolution 
by Burnett Bolloten.
Harvester, 1074 pp., £50, April 1991, 0 7450 0763 5
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... of Hispanic American Studies there, then still directed by the high-minded Ronald Hilton. A second English edition, also entitled The Grand Camouflage, appeared in 1968, with an introduction by Hugh Trevor-Roper. A third, called The Spanish Revolution, appeared in 1978-79 in English, Spanish and French. Finally, a newly revised text appeared. This work, over twice as long as the original text ...
24 January 1980
An Unfinished History of the World 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 700 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 241 10282 0
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... traditional forces – mercifully prominent in the writer’s own nation – which can be rallied and nourished with intellectual fodder. ‘Those who wish to revive the West,’ concludes Mr Thomas, ‘should recognise that one of the benefits of a study of history is that it is always possible to reverse, as Plato put it, an apparently fatal tendency towards decay, however late the hour ...

Diary

Hugh Thomas: In Mexico

2 June 1988
... Are you a priest?’ The question came from a taxi-driver in Mexico City’s Calle Francisco Madero. And it was, I suppose, a reasonable question. In Mexico, priests are never allowed in the street in robes, except at Easter time. I did once see a monk in habit walking at dusk between the churches of Santo Domingo and Caridad in San Cristobal de las Casas, but I was assured that he must have been ...
21 March 1991
Ever Closer Union: Britain’s Destiny in Europe 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 96 pp., £7.99, January 1991, 0 09 174908 5
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The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Pan, 226 pp., £5.99, February 1991, 9780330314367
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... need of ‘re-education’ is a trifle patronising. But most of us would agree that a government trying to ‘take Britain into Europe’ had a public relations problem. Is that still the case? Are HughThomas and Michael Heseltine right in arguing that Britain’s leaders are now lagging behind public opinion in Europeanism or, at the very least, that they are failing in their duty to enthuse us ...

Homage to Spain

Douglas Johnson

22 May 1986
Homage to Catalonia 
by George Orwell.
Secker, 260 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 436 35028 9
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The Spanish Civil War 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 1115 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 241 89450 6
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The Triumph of Democracy in Spain 
by Paul Preston.
Methuen, 274 pp., £14.95, April 1986, 0 416 36350 4
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... the chapter order, with Chapters Five and Eleven being relegated to appendices, on the grounds that they contained concentrated political analysis which interrupted the flow of Orwell’s narration. HughThomas’s book first appeared in 1961 and was then the first major historical study of the war, written at a time when no one in Spain could contemplate writing an objective study of any part of its ...

Carry on writing

Stephen Bann

15 March 1984
The Two of Us 
by John Braine.
Methuen, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 413 51280 0
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An Open Prison 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 575 03380 0
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Havannah 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £9.95, February 1984, 0 241 11175 7
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Sunrising 
by David Cook.
Secker, 248 pp., £8.50, February 1984, 0 436 10674 4
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Memoirs of an Anti-Semite 
by Gregor von Rezzori, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Picador, 282 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 330 28325 1
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It’s me, Eddie 
by Edward Limonov, translated by S.L. Campbell.
Picador, 264 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 330 28329 4
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The Anatomy Lesson 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 291 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 224 02960 6
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... else, a book about the peculiar kind of voluntary imprisonment which we submit to as readers of a novel. It could only have been written by an author who had tested his resources many times before. HughThomas’s Havannah is a very different kind of achievement. Here is an accomplished writer actually changing harness, and exchanging the sober caparison of the historian for the showier trappings of ...

Eden and Suez

David Gilmour

18 December 1986
Anthony Eden 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Weidenfeld, 665 pp., £16.95, October 1986, 0 297 78989 9
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Descent to Suez: Diaries 1951-56 
by Evelyn Shuckburgh, edited by John Charmley.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 297 78993 7
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Cutting the Lion’s Tail: Suez through Egyptian Eyes 
by Mohamed Heikal.
Deutsch, 242 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 233 97967 0
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The Suez Affair 
by Hugh Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 255 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 297 78953 8
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... Sir John Simon and Sir Robert Vansittart are described in similar terms, but the worst treatment of all is reserved for Sir Anthony Nutting. In his introduction to the new edition of The Suez Affair, HughThomas describes Sir Anthony as ‘the one man who conducted himself consistently and with impeccable honour’ at the time of Suez, and it is a judgment difficult to dispute. A young and talented ...

Anti-Liberalism

Alan Brinkley

7 January 1988
Armed Truce 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 667 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 241 11843 3
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The Wise Men 
by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas.
Faber, 853 pp., £15.95, January 1987, 0 571 14606 6
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Ike 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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May-Day 
by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... all suggest that, whatever the impact of revisionism on scholars, it has had relatively little lasting effect on how the larger public views the recent past. Neither the length nor the argument of HughThomas’s exhaustive history of the beginnings of the Cold War (the first of several volumes, he promises) will surprise anyone familiar with the author’s previous career. Best known for his ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: My Father, Hugh Thomas

14 June 2017
... him would be assumed to be true: a notice on the desk next to his computer monitor explained the dangers of perjuring yourself. Then we began to go through the details of the death certificate. Name: Hugh Swynnerton Thomas. Date of death: 7 May 2017. Your relation to him? Son. A few years ago, when I asked my father why he wasn’t going to the house in south-west France where he had for several ...
20 October 1983
Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears 
by Geoffrey Pearson.
Macmillan, 243 pp., £15, July 1983, 0 333 23399 9
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... tradition on which British self-confidence was bashed for centuries. Basking in the afterglow of a landslide victory and fully aware of the potency of the Falklands factor, Tory politicians like Lord HughThomas, the distinguished historian of Spain and Cuba, see the task of historians as the creation of a usable past which will confirm the version of history peddled in the popular press, furnish yet ...

At Manchester Art Gallery

Inigo Thomas: Annie Swynnerton

27 September 2018
... patron Mary Hunter. She was the wife of a coal baron and said it was her ‘sacred duty’ to spend all her husband’s money. In that ambition she seems to have been mostly successful. James, Rodin, Thomas Beecham, Edith Wharton, Sargent were among her many fans and beneficiaries. In August 1911, James wrote to Alice, his sister-in-law, and explained why he was at Hunter’s house. ‘I am adding day ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul

13 May 1999
Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... quickly – through introductions secured by Naipaul – on hobnobbing terms with the sort of people who give (or gave) dinner parties. He seems touchingly, but crudely, pleased, to have clocked up HughThomas, Hugh and Antonia Fraser, as well as some Soho poets, in his first week. And of course, he has managed to bed one of our girls before Christmas. He is never more whining than in his suggestion ...
28 November 1996
Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher 
by George Urban.
Tauris, 206 pp., £19.95, September 1996, 1 86064 084 2
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... objected. As Urban records, she was ‘profoundly upset by the violation (as she sees it) of Common wealth sovereignty’ – how she could have seen it as anything else he does not explain. Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, who was Urban’s patron at the Court of Queen Margaret, disagreed with this regal dissent and invited Urban to listen to a debate in the House of Lords on Grenada, in which he was ...

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